CHRIS SMITHER. Songwriter. Guitarist. Performer. Bluesman. CALL ME LUCKY is the new record from Chris Smither and is his first set of brand new originals in six years (release date: March 2018 on Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert). Recorded at the gorgeous Blue Rock Studio in the Texas foothills CALL ME LUCKY features longtime producer and multi instrumentalist David Goodrich, drummer Billy Conway (Morphine), Matt Lorenz (aka The Suitcase Junket), Mike Meadows, and engineer Keith Gary. The new record features Smither trademark songs that offer commentary on the human condition with a wink of an eye and pulls from deep in the soul. To complete the project are a couple of surprise covers that remind us of Chris' deftness as a song interpreter as he makes the songs his own.
Honing a synthesis of folk and blues for 50 years, Smither is truly an American original. Reviewers and fans from around the world, including Rolling Stone and The New York Times, agree that Chris continues to be a profound songwriter, a blistering guitarist, and intense performer as he draws deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets and humanist philosophers.
CALL ME LUCKY does just that. Check it out. Check out Chris Smither.
Recorded at the gorgeous Blue Rock Studio in Texas’ hill country, just outside Austin in Wimberley, Smither’s 18th album, titled Call Me Lucky, due out March 2, 2018 on Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert, distributed by Redeye, is the artist’s first studio recording of brand new originals in six years. Once again Smither turned to his long-time producer and multi-instrumentalist David Goodrich, drummer Billy Conway (Morphine), Matt Lorenz (a.k.a. The Suitcase Junket), and engineer Keith Gary. The four musicians went into the session to record ten songs. What they ended up with is a double record: Disc 1 features the eight originals and two covers they started with; Disc 2 catapults the very same songs — with what life-long fans may know as the Smither sound — into another dimension, featuring very different arrangements.
Producer Goodrich recalls, “I’ve worked with Chris on a number of records over the past several years and I had a special feeling about this one going in. I didn’t send out any roughs or lyrics to the guys ahead of time. As I said, I had a feeling. We walked in to the studio on June 23 and it became evident these songs were the foundation of something bigger.”
Smither shook things up. During the making of the record each musician at some point wore a different hat. The engineer played piano. The drummer played guitar. Chris took a Chuck Berry standard and turned it on its head and it came out in a minor key. They added in another surprise cover (you’ll just have to listen to find out what it is). And to top it off, yes, Chris went electric.
At the core of Call Me Lucky are the ten songs, which offer commentary on the human condition that only Chris Smither can put pen to. These songs pull from deep in the soul, making for a kind of reflection, an introspection, that usually comes from someone only when facing a higher power or natural disaster. From the opening track of “Blame’s on Me” to “Lower the Humble,” Smither raises his own bar when it comes to songwriting. The rollicking “Nobody Home” offers a sharp observation of the 21st century, while “Change Your Mind” reaches back to Smither’s blues and folk roots as a young man.
As most Smither aficionados know, he recognizes great songs by other writers and always includes a couple of songs by other musicians. His deftness as an interpreter is often overlooked and yet his ability to choose a song and then make it his own is almost as important as his signature guitar styling and his command of the songwriting craft. Listen, you’ll hear for yourself. His aforementioned rendering of “Maybellene” is menacing.
Goodrich goes on to say, “There have been some out there — Bonnie Raitt, The Dixie Chicks, Emmylou Harris, John Mayall, Diana Krall, among others — who not only know the strength of a Smither song, they get how coverable he is. Chris himself is the ultimate interpreter of others’ songs, and being the songwriter he is, we thought, ‘Let’s have Smither cover Smither. So one afternoon we let loose and had some fun. Chris dug in and gave these songs new identities. An interpretation. That’s how we ended up with the second disc.”
Disc 2 of Call Me Lucky transcends the core record and takes the listener on an unexpected sonic journey. And mixing it all up is that surprise cover.
And that is Call Me Lucky.